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Somerset Fellowship of Drama

The SFD is an umbrella organisation whose mission is to promote amateur theatre throughout the county. For many years it was a sub-committee of the Community Council for Somerset and and at the time was responsible mainly for organising competitive drama for its 49 member groups. It also had 70 or so individual members - people who were supportive of its aims and interested in helping.

Just over 10 years ago, with the support of most of our members and under the inspired leadership of our then-chairman Mike Linham, we decided to become independent. It was a bold step into the unknown, but it seems to have paid off. Since then we have seen a considerable increase in both our membership (82 groups and 200 individuals at the last count) and in the range of activities we provide for them.

So, what does the SFD actually do?...

A rather quaint old-fashioned idea perhaps, but when we asked people, back in 1998, that's what they said they wanted - a sense of belonging to an organisation with a common purpose, and a means of sharing - ideas, problems, solutions, and even equipment. The Committee of the SFD exists to help its members, and as a member you have a direct line of communication to it through your...

These are six experienced people, all actively involved in amateur theatre in their own areas of Somerset, who are on the committee to represent your interests. So make contact with them, invite them to your next production perhaps, get to know them, and use them. They want to be used - as a source of advice and information, as problem solvers, and as a conduit for helping you to change the organisation for the better.
Alternatively, you can air your views in...

A year or so before Independence we started publishing a 24-page monthly magazine which went out, free, to all our members and which has become crucial to the way the organisation operates. Spotlight has developed into something of an institution, which is why we have decided to continue to publish it in much the same format now that it is on-line, and so that those who prefer to read something in their hands, as well as those who don't yet have access to the Internet, can get it printed off and keep abreast of what it happening in the SFD.
If you feel like writing articles or reviews, just contact the Editor (editor@somesetdrama.org.uk). If you have a bee in your bonnet about something, write to the Letters page - we print everything and anything drama-related. If you are looking for an old-fashioned telephone or a new leading man, you can post your small ad without charge on the Bulletin Board and you'll probably get an answer!
Let Spotlight know about your next production and you can have it advertised in the What's On columns and tell us if you are prepared to offer...

All members can use their membership card to claim a concessionary rate (usually £1 off the ticket price) for both amateur and professional productions which are advertised as "SFD Concessions". As a thank-you to groups for offering this we used to provide a free flyer service, but of course now we no longer have a monthly mail-out of Spotlight. So instead we will be using their poster to illustrate the main Diary page for the month in which their production falls, which should give them valuable additional publicity.
Members can also use their card to get significant discounts off...

We hold regular training events throughout the year - usually a day or a half-day - with professional tutors. These are available to everyone and early booking is advised.
They are advertised in the...

This is a feature we have introduced on the website at the request of members who want to plan ahead when booking their events, so as to avoid date clashes. The SFD Diary runs 12 months in advance, and we would encourage groups to make it useful by entering their production dates and venues for the coming year as soon as they are confirmed. We don't even need to know the name of the production if it hasn't yet been decided - just 'Pantomime' or 'Autumn Production' will do fine. We can update the Diary as more details emerge and we can set it up to appear in What's On, when a slot becomes vacant, as soon as you send us your poster as an image. Important SFD events - like Presentation Evenings and the AGM - will also appear in the Diary.
And talking about the...

The SFD is a charity and, of course, has a Constitution (which you can read in full under Documents and Resources if you are interested). This requires us to have an AGM, which we hold in September in a different area of Somerset each year. We try to keep the business element to a minimum - usually about half an hour - and we spend the rest of the evening eating, drinking and enjoying some form of light-hearted entertainment, all of which is free to members. One year the Committee themselves, famously, put on a comedy which was such a success that we were invited to take it to a neighbouring village hall the following week!
The script we used that year was one short-listed for the...

This is open to playwrights from all over the South West whose work is judged in two categories - full length plays and one act plays.
The winning full length play one year was used for the...

For several years in succession, during the month of June, we put on and toured a production round a number of venues in Somerset, recruiting the cast and backstage team from a number of different member Groups, and this was an enormous help in breaking down the barriers of rivalry and insularity which tends to build up between them. People still talk about the 'Confusions' tour in 2002, which involved five different groups, one in each part of the county, all working together and forgeing bonds which have lasted to this day. The County Production has, unfortunately, lapsed in recent years but remains on our long-term agenda and will no doubt re-emerge, possibly as open-air productions in the future, if we can recruit someone with enough energy and vision to produce them.
Three of the short-listed one act plays in the Original Writing Competiton are staged as the...

This is held annually in February and entries are adjudicated on the night.
The Best Production gets a free entry into the...

This is a one act play festival held in March over one weekend. It is adjudicated publicly by a professional Adjudicator, usually from GODA. The winning team goes on to represent Somerset in the next round of the All England Theatre Festival. Youth entries are very welcome and the winning Youth entry goes on to the Five Counties Youth Drama Festival.
We also have our own...

This is held in November, again at a weekend and adjudicated professionally.

Quite a number of our groups do not feel they want to get into competitive drama, but many see it as hugely enjoyable and as a way of raising their standards and lifting horizons. We run three major competitions...

This is for full length plays and runs from September to August...

This is for full length musicals and runs from January to November...

This is for pantomimes and runs from November to March

Groups who enter any of these three competitions, for which there is currently a fee of £20 (rising to £30 in 2012), will get a visit from a member of a panel of adjudicators who will send them a full written adjudication after the show. A Moderator will see all the entries. At a meeting held at the end of the season nominations are made and the winners in each of a number of categories announced at one of the...

The Cinderella Trophy Awards evening, which includes a cabaret selected from some of the best shows, is held in May. The Phoebe Rees Presentation Evening is held in October and the David Beach Presentation Evening is held in March...

We hope to see you at one of them!